Let’s master your marketing

If you are running at 100 miles an hour and not getting anywhere, this is a good place to stop and take a breath.

This website helps marketing managers, marketing officers, and non-marketing people flat-out running their businesses. It is for people who are overworked and overwhelmed and wondering why they are doing things.

The methods and tools work for any sized business, including nonprofits.

My mission is to help you master your marketing and thrive. To help give you a sense of strategic clarity and sense of purpose. And to help you if you get stuck.

There are loads of articles, tools, and templates written over many years and while studying a Master’s degree in Marketing and running a graphic design business.

In this website, and links to videos and graphics about:

  • Branding and brand elements
  • Copywriting, editing, proofreading
  • Graphic design, advertising, and creative work
  • Websites, WordPress and search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Media and Publicity
  • Printing and publishing formats


eBooks and ePublishing Formats

What’s an ebook?

Ebook is a bit of a catch-all phrase. When someone uses the term ‘ebooks’, they could be referring to any of a number of different file formats.

Essentially, an ebook is a file that can be read on an electronic device, like a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, a smartphone, or an e-reader like the Kindle® or Nook®.

Common file types that qualify as an ebook are:

  • ePub
  • PDF
  • Mobi
  • Fixed Layout epub
  • iBook

Each of these file types has a slightly different purpose and various advantages and limitations.


An epub file is essentially a website that has been packaged. Chapters are documents linked together from one main document or a number of files. A Table of Contents (TOC) helps the device navigate through the sections.

ePub files are widely used, especially for novels and other text-based books. It has something that not all the others formats have — the ability to ‘reflow’.

A reflowable epub file is responsive to the device. An epub file will shape-shift to fit nicely on a screen no matter what the size or resolution.

The user can often change the typeface to an option they prefer and can change type size to reduce or enlarge.


Limitations of epub

You cannot have bleed (graphics or colour that runs over the page). That’s because when you are working with a reflowable electronic document, there is no page. The page is the user’s screen which may be small or very large.

Complex layouts will create headaches as everything is pushed into one column.

No shapes are supported. You can get around this by converting the shape to a jpeg, which it will support.

Master page items are ignored, as are overlays, tabs, returns, and indents unless they are assigned as Styles.

It is crucial to apply styles both Paragraph and Character styles for your epub files. The styles are important for how the publication will flow. If you ignore styles and set the type with Bold, italics, indents and so on wherever you feel, it will force the ePub to include CSS code for all these ‘overrides’. This will ultimately create a bloated file.  Styles will keep it lean and clean.

You also need to apply a Table of Contents Style.

You cannot currently convert a Microsoft Word doc to ePub. You need a program like InDesign to create it. Mac’s Pages software can also create an epub file.


This is the dedicated format for Amazon and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

Amazon will convert your epub file to a .mobi when you upload it to KDP.

Fixed Layout ePub

This format is good when you want a more magazine-style look, or kids book, such as when you have a lot of graphics or your layout is more complex than straight text.

The Fixed layout ePub can be created to deliver something to your reader that looks much like the layout you have generated in your source program. If the position of images and text is important, it could be better to sacrifice reflowable text functionality and go for the fixed layout as you can better guarantee the user experience.

Having said that, because it isn’t reflowable, it could be harder to read if the user is on a small screen, as they have to manually zoom in.


Most people know PDF. It is everywhere and even Internet browsers often have their own PDF reading software. The problem is that not all PDFs are created equally. They are not reflowable and you cannot upload a PDF to sell to Amazon, Google, Apple or most ebook retailers. PDF is fantastic for a lot of things but e-publishing is not one of them.


This is Apple’s own proprietary epub format. The Apple iBooks application only sells .ibook.

By uploading an epub file to iBooks Author, the iBooks Author application will convert to a .ibook file for sale and distribution from there. The bad news is that it isn’t used anywhere except by Apple iBooks, and it can’t be used on your own website.

The .ibook file is reflowable when the device is held in landscape mode. When held in portrait, it becomes fixed layout epub.


That’s a  snapshot of a few of the various e-publishing file formats.

History and Styles of Graphic Design

Egyptian temples were filled with graphic art. Medieval navigation maps were full of symbols and imagery.

Graphic design is not a new concept. The term itself may have been first coined in 1922, but graphic design has existed since the earliest cave art.

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance saw the heavy use of heraldry–the armour, family, class, rank and pedigree. Cattle branding was used to show ownership and quality. Continue reading

Is accessibility in your sight?

World Sight Day is a good time to audit your online documents for accessibility

October 12, 2017, was World Sight Day. Developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2000, World Sight Day aims to raise awareness about blindness and vision impairment for VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, a global initiative.

According to the research described by Dr Norman Doidge in his book, The Brain that Changes Itself, those without sight can use hearing and touch to activate the visual part of the brain. Remarkably, the study also found that by the visual cortex was much more strongly activated for the blind subjects as for those who could see.

Internationally-recognised disability services expert, Trevor Allan, says that adapting services for unsighted people is becoming more and more important around the world.

“Accessibility is a human rights issue,” said Mr Allan. “Why shouldn’t an unsighted person be able to access the same financial, technology and information services that others take for granted.”

All Australian Government agencies are now required to ensure information and services are provided in a non-discriminatory accessible manner, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

“When it comes to electronic material, an unsighted person can access information by using what is known as assistive technology such as a screen reader, text-to-voice technology, and braille devices,” said Mr Allan.

“Best practice is to ensure that information and communication services are set up for that technology.”

Highlands resident, Danielle Spinks-Earl, is a communications and marketing consultant who believes many organisations don’t understand how important accessibility is or how to achieve it.

“There is a large amount of information in the public domain that is not set up to be accessible for those who are using assistive technology,” said Ms Spinks-Earl.

“For example, many people know that an alternative text field is for adding a description of an image, but often it is left blank in a website or document, or it says ‘image’. For an unsighted person, this is like opening a family photo album and seeing page after page of blank squares and the word ‘image’.

Danielle Spinks-Earl has sought the advice of Trevor Allan, who is based in Wollongong, in developing interactive PDFs for government and international clients.

“Good design is inclusive. Every organisation—large and small—can do this,” said Ms Spinks-Earl. “If it’s going to be publicly available, make sure it’s accessible.”

More information about World Sight Day 17 is available here: http://worldsightday.org.au/

Ingredients of a beautiful cook book design

Wild food by Juleigh Robins

 Tucked into a heavy shelf of thick cookery, travel and psychology books, it was the colour (a browny-beetroot) and the loose cursive script ‘Wild Food’ that drew me over.

The cover is nice at first glance, beautiful on the second.

The tart/tort/pie in short focus is bright with splotches of raspberry red in the crisp foreground and pitted with baked-in browny beetroot in the back. The plate it sits on is turquoise blue and dusted with icing sugar.

The title’s lettering is fat and flowing—a secondary salival trigger. The author’s name (replete with unconventional spelling ‘Juleigh’ with good mouth feel) is balanced and exquisitely tucked into the space the eye will naturally move into after absorbing those tasty crumbs.

The subtitle is what appears to be Adobe Garamond: 100 recipes using Australian ingredients. This is a well-crafted serif and one of my favourite typefaces of all time, and the favourite also of my good friend, Dave Eggers. (He may not have heard of me.)

Turn the page to the inside cover and here we go. The dust jacket is the same beety colour. Now I should tell you here and now that I have tried to determine the exact colour values of this elusive blend for years. Many years.

I have identified Pantone 209, at some stage, and various shades with differing C, M , Y and K values, and altogether dissimilar RBG.

The deception lies in its inconsistency. Differing times of day, differing paper stocks and finishes, differing screen monitors, sizes and devices—all of these change the appearance of this most volatile vermillion.

But this is the one.

It’s easy to make this colour go brown, unintentionally, but when it’s the perfect balance of magenta and cyan—and like a fine oil on a neutral-tasting square of bread, it needs the right stock to carry it—it is sublime.

The jacket copy is white, Adobe Garamond, of course. But the lead paragraph of three is larger (perhaps 14 points and italicised as opposed to 12 points and regular) and the three are each ‘wildly’ left justified with one single hyphenation toward the bottom. Like the Royal Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, this finely tuned wildness.

The inside cover artwork spreads across the 60 millimetre plus interior. It’s a tableau of excess, hedony and accidents. There are spills, smears and splatters of claret, garnet berries, sweet blood sugar, wine drops, mauvey with age.

t looks just like the lampshade my two-year-old created for my birthday. I don’t mean that to sound wry or derogatory. It’s just that it really does look very much like the lampshade my two-year-old created that is in our lounge room. Compare pictures of both.

Glimpse above or below the artwork and you’ll see that sneaky companion colour, the opposite of the spectrum and what a treat—it’s the icy cool turquoise blue. What a palette!

The subject of the book is wild food in Australia so the colour palette has to reflex that. It does with deep reds, olives and ochres, sage, forest greens and juicy dark berry colours.co

The section identities use a natural dry brush over two inches on the right panel to showcase the wild, script ingredient, picking up a colour that’s sampled from the food. The dry brush is repeated on the overleaf left sidebar but shrinks to a discreet one centimetre.

The book’s generous margination of a bottom and sides white space of 15 mills, with 20 mills on top, makes it feel luxurious, like a clean and minimal Hyatt room.

Wild Food is published by Lantern, an imprint of Penguin, and written by Juleigh Robin with Ian Robin as a consultant.

Why I Dig Canva (and So Will You)

I cringed at first. I thought it was a gimmicky website that would replace elegant design work with awful DIY wallpaper and slowly wrest demand away from quality graphic designers. I wasn’t keen. So I ignored it.

To be honest, it didn’t really grab my attention until veterans like Joan Stewart and Guy Kawasaki start promoting it. When those two get onto something, I listen. I tried it out. I liked it.

Now I really dig Canva. Why?

Canva screenshotDig, you say? Now you dig it?

Yes. I can dig it. This is why. Not just because it’s from my nabe – Surry Hills (Sydney).

With Canva, you jump right in and – without any design headaches – you can drag and drop text, images, backgrounds, shapes, and all sorts of great features.

With templates for Twitter, Facebook covers, Facebook post updates, posters, presentations, postcards, flyers, business cards, book and ebook covers, and print and web resolutions, you’re all set to create unique and eye-catching graphics to show off your posts.

Things I dig about Canva

Affordable Stock

My  once-beloved iStockphoto I have been using since 2004. I started as a contributing photographer, as well as a purchaser for the myriad campaigns I needed to pull together every year. I used to be able to afford the credits and the range of prices was reasonable for my employer’s wallet. Fast forward and I am sorely disappointed that, with Getty, the most basic package is now $36 AU for just 3 credits. Yes, the Getty quality if great, but c’mon.

This is where Canva steps up. It has over 1,000,000 images and the quality is… well… it’s okay. You can usually get what you’re after.

And most times the image is only $1. That’s what I like – transparent, easy to remember. A credit package is ten bucks and that kept me going for some time. Ten bucks is not much to outlay and you can get ten images out if it.

Infoginfographic elements in canvaraphic Elements

Putting together graphs, pie charts, schematics and the like, well it’s expected these days. But it’s time consuming. Canva can help, even just with some ideas. The range has been helpful to me in planning my graphics for magazines, publications and reports.

They are crude and a little rudimentary, but it’s a good place to dig about and see what you can get.

There’s also plenty of free elements in there, like maps of countries and pencil clip art, that kind of thing.


I adore typography and Canvas has a large selection of modern fonts to play with. There is also a ‘Design’ school tutorial section which shows people the basics of pairing fonts, developing colour palettes, and that kind of thing.

Original Creations

I dig Canva because it helps bloggers, web users, everyone who has any website material or social media accounts to maintain to do so without breaching copyright.

Believe me there are people so blissfully ignorant of copyright, you’d fall off your chair.

You can use Canva as an option for people who are in the habit of taking images off Google images oblivious to the fact that, just because you can right click > save something, doesn’t give you the license to do it.

It’s nice to have that clarity and creativity.

Integrity costs you nothing. Well, with Canva it costs very little anyway.

Do you use Canva? What do you think?


The Power of Interactive PDF

One of the best things about Adobe InDesign is the ability to save your files as Interactive PDFs.

Imagine designing an online brochure with a photo for each of your products. When someone clicks a product image, it turns into a video showing off the cool features.

If they have a question? They can fill in an enquiry form.

What’s an Interactive PDF?

This is no bog standard portable document format (PDF) file. You can add active hyperlinks, for example, and fillable forms. You can design a Submit button and have the data in that form sent to an email address. You can also add bookmarks and movies. Sometimes.

Some people ask why not just have a website. The answer is that an interactive PDF can be more like a magazine, does not require an active internet connection, and can be emailed or supplied on a branded USB stick.

What can you do with it?

The sky is the limit with what you could do with an interactive PDF. Here are a few ideas.

  • Make an Annual Report for your company. Leave out the financial tables and use the general company info for your organisation all year round.
  • Make a Product Catalogue to Email to prospective customers/clients.
  • Make a membership brochure with a fillable application form. You can also link to a payment gateway like Paypal if you want.
  • Show off a Portfolio of your work and have an enquiry form.
  • Create a Conference booklet that includes a Gallery of Abstract Posters with links to findings, research presentations, and links to related sessions during the event.

Current Challenges with Interactive PDF

One of the challenges around interactive PDFs is the lack of consistency between PDF viewers over the internet.

As Bob Levine says, “Most users think that a PDF is a PDF is a PDF. This is simply not true.” In that sense, PDF is a victim of its own success by the fact that it is now everywhere.

The PDF file was created by Adobe, as well as InDesign and Acrobat, and interactive PDFs are best viewed using Adobe software–whether that is the free Adobe Reader of a sufficiently up-to-date standard (although it doesn’t need to be the latest. Version 7 is fine), or the paid Acrobat Pro or Acrobat DC.

Some browsers have developed their own in-browser PDF viewing capability (Chrome and Firefox), but unfortunately, these don’t support all of the interactive features of the PDF. It’s a real pain and I wish they would get their software in order as Adobe should have the first and last word on what is a universal standard of PDF.

If there are still issues with the user experience of interactive PDF, why not just create an App?

Well, sure. But an App is often well beyond of many.

How do you get around the issues?

If a link is to be sent by email or embedded in a web page, it is best to mention that the PDF is interactive and best viewed in Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader (e.g. version 7 or later).

If the document is extremely complex, I would suggest considering an alternative such as Fixed Layout ePub. This will create a magazine-style experience with navigation buttons and hyperlinks.

How does it look in ISSUU?

Issuu is a fantastic platform for online magazines I’ve been using for nearly a decade. I tested an interactive PDF in issuu and the results were better than I expected. The hyperlinks worked, including my link over to Paypal, and so did the fillable form. The video, however, didn’t play. No surprises there. Video seems to be the main bugbear when it comes to compatibility.

Want Help?

If you are interested in turning an existing document into an interactive PDF, or Fixed Layout ePub, please get in touch.



How to write a more effective media release

The Media Release Formula

Who. What. When. Where. Why and How. I learned it 20 years ago. Still the formula, right? Sure, but you’re probably boring people. There are often better alternatives.

Occasionally I like to use a bold hairy quite right up front for instant drama and impact. Like this:
“More infant wombats with easily curable illnesses will die unless State government immediately starts upgrading facilities at Wandin Valley Animal Hospital,” said Simon Bowen, the Hospital Director yesterday.
With more tech, entrepreneurs everywhere and a sharing economy, a new ‘story-telling’ formula has emerged. I am indebted here to the enduringly helpful Joan Stewart, who credits Ann Wylie for the X, Y, Z, A formula.
“It looks like this: X (users) who have struggled with Y (problem) will now be able to Z (benefit), thanks to A (product or service).”
It reads like this:
Commuters who now spend an hour each day driving from Sunrise Beach to Osage Beach will soon be able to make the trip in 15 minutes, thanks to a new bridge that the ABC Company will build this summer.
The right formula depends on what the release is about and to whom it is being sent. Remember not all reporters report news the same way.
If there is a different angle for a different audience, right a different release.

What NOT to include in a Media Release

There are plenty of people who still think a Media Release is a multipage advertisement for a product or service or announcement.

It’s not.

A Media Release is closer to an Article.  At least, it should have an angle of interest to a publication that will serve their readership.

Try to help journalists meet their difficult deadlines by providing ready copy (text) they can lift straight out.

That includes strong quotes, with clear and accurate attribution, and a balance of sources.

Don’t use adjectives. The media release is completely impersonal. More often than not, it should have a ‘newsy’ objective feel.

You are not launching a much-needed fantastic or exciting event. You are launching an event. Include your adjectives if you have to) in a direct quote from a person.

A new XYZ event will open on DATE to coincide with ABC. “This is an exciting and much-needed event,” said XXX from YYY. “It’s fantastic the level of support we’ve had.”

Don’t bury the lead. Get to the point immediately. Use the ‘pyramid. The most important information should be right up front. Editors and journalists will edit for space by cutting from the bottom up.

Don’t harass writers and editors by sending a teaser email and then asking them to contact you. They’re busy. Send them your info in the body of an email. Give them whatever they need to run a piece. If there are pictures available, let them know. Avoid sending attachments as they may not get opened due to antivirus protocols in many media organisations.

Hope that helps. If you have any further pointers, please feel free to share them here.

Circular Logo Trend, like the Opal Card

Is it just me or are you seeing this everywhere too?

Why, even Photoshop Channels panel uses something similar

PSD channels image

Circular logos using gradients.

They look good, I admit. And I may even be guilty of designing one myself.

Here in Australia, a few of the more common examples are Opal Card, our new transport ticketing system, and the AAP logo.

Similar, don’t you think? I guess the main differences are the white space shape left in the middle. For AAP (Australian Associated Press) this is a triangle.

For Opal, the white space is a diamond. I think Opal is the more elegant of the two. The soft serifs on the P, A and L also reflect the smooth corners of the diamond white space.

Opal card logo AAP logo






By the way, here’s a pretty similar version I found on a collection site. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting anyone has breached copyright here. When a good idea gets going, people get onto it. Graphic design works in trends like this. As long as it’s sufficiently original, and registered, you’re okay.

Even Shutterstock and iStock are selling nice where do-it-yourself designers can buy and customise an eps file to create their own.

How you can make one

Oh, and here’s a tutorial about how you can make the Opal Card logo (below). It’s by the illustrious Abduzeedo.

Abduzeedo tut

But if you have Illustrator, it is fairly easy. Just make sure you change it a bit so it doesn’t look exactly like something else.

The Opal Card logo is very similar, but it doesn’t have the wedge of pink at the top right, nor does it use yellow in its colour pallette. Opal sticks to a simple four colour scheme of orange, red, blue and green.

Also the circles have been set further apart making the ring look thicker and the diamond in the centre look smaller.

What do you think? Spotted any logo trends lately?



A Gorgeous Example of Wine Label Atwork

Rymill Dark horse wine labelMaybe it was the brewing storm, but when I was walking along Glebe Point Road the other night, this local bottle shop window art caught my eye.

This gorgeous piece of graphic design is the label of wine brand’s Rymill’s newest 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, The Dark Horse.

Named in commemoration of Jane Rymill’s ex-Police horse, Adlai, a dark chestnut thoroughbred.

Right now, we’re at the end of racing season. Whether you like racing or not, this is a sport that commands premium brand sponsors and top shelf prices.

Why the label works so well

The graphic design concept is uncluttered. The message is clear.

It works psychologically because it also pays homage to Australia’s recent champion, Black Caviar.

I think this has been created with various Photoshop smoke brushes and an actual photograph of Adlai on a background layer. Although smoke brushes are often over-used at the moment, this is a perfectly appropriate example.

The background photo makes for an excellent guide as well as gives good definition. Look at the front of the horse where there is a lower level of opacity.

There is great definition in the front hooves, as the horse gallops away. The nose, chest and ears all have clean lines.

Can you see the hairs from the the chin and nostrils? There are even eyelashes.

Once you move past the legs and torso, the horse is just vapour, tendrils of speed. Yet, there is no clear-cut transition point from horse to apparition.

This is a design piece that masters the art of precise whimsy.

The classic Coonawarra typeface and the gold horses device convey power, freedom, and wild elegance.

I’ve always been a fan of well-used kerning and the nice spacing between the RYMILL letters and the Dark Horse brand name add understated sophistication. I’m guessing it probably isn’t Adobe Garamond — my all-time favourite typeface — but it’s very similar.

What’s it like to taste? If I didn’t have a two week old baby, I’d certainly be letting you know.

The wine retails for $23.95. I think it’s worth it to enjoy the artwork while savouring.

Kudos to the designer. A very handsome job.

Street Fair Graphic Design

The artwork promoting Glebe Street Fair and Newtown Festival are both standouts.

They make good case studies of what to do when you need to design something with a large amount of information.

Newtown Festival Newtown Festival artwork

The designer of this event has been given a lot of information to include on a simple promotional poster.

We have:

  • Festival name
  • Organiser (Newtown Neighbourhood Centre Inc)
  • Key attractions (writers tent; market stalls; kids zone; dog show; live music)
  • Entry by gold coin donation
  • Sponsor logos

It could easily have been a mess. Instead, the designer has used a centred, vintage carnivalesque design with a simple colour palette of earthy and burnt orange, and a soft mint green as the highlight colour. The desaturated colours give the appropriate vintage look, which appeals to the local population.

The flags also communicate community, backyard, and low-key.

The featured image is the bicycle – a style popular in Newtown.

Through the use of layers, the designer has added the symbols of marquees and trees in orange with about 50 per cent opacity behind the bicycle.

All the logos, which need a solid colour background, have been placed at the bottom on the green park.

The use of th oval shaped park also adds visual interest. As does the green hanging pendant in the bottom layer. Do you see the white arrow the negative space makes above the bicycle?

If you looked at the bicycle first (I did), you then see an arrow indicating where to look next (the name of the event at the top).

Whether you notice them as a viewer or not is unimportant. The design subconsciously leads the eye to the important information.

Kudos to the designer, very nice job.

Glebe St Fair

Just like the Newtown Festival, Glebe St Fair designer has given a tonne of information to include in the poster design.

Glebe Street FairInstead of chunky boxes everywhere, they have used a sky theme and a retro design. Again, a simple colour pallette of blue and black makes it a very elegant design piece.

It has made the simple banner box ‘Glebe St Fair’ an oddly shaped rhombus, which draws attention. The clouds creeping over the borders also break up the consistency of the rectangle, making it more noticeable.

The blue bird sitting up top on the word Fair might encourage Tweeting but also conveys that this is a community fair, involving everyone.

The web address and ’34 years’ are communicated through the vintage plane’s ribbon sky trail. The plane becomes part of the design, flying over towards the signpost that indicates all the selling points of the fair.

 Event Design Lessons

  1.  Decide on a theme that helps convey the spirit of the event. Use elements of the theme to add visual interest as well as showcase important features.
  2. Stick with a simple colour palette.
  3. Be aware of where the eye will lead. Lines can guide the viewer where to look.
  4. Put logos on a solid background (e.g. black, white, or another colour). Gradients and changing tones will contravene most logo style guides.
  5. Use layers so that the artwork looks more dimensionally, rather than flat.
  6. Trust your intuition.


I recently had a chance encounter with a group of Chinese students from Shanghai studying English in Sydney.

I asked them what their favourite Australian brand was.

I expected them to say Weetbix or Cricket Australia. Vegemite, even the ABC, perhaps.

“Yoojiji,” was the answer I received.



The entire group agreed. Yoojeejee was the class’s favourite Australian brand in China.

There must have been some confusion. How can the favourite Australian brand be one I have never even heard of.

“That sounds Japanese,” I said.  “Are you sure it’s Australian?”

“Very famous Australian brand. Yoojiji!”

I felt like an idiot for a moment. Then, duh. U.G.G.

The humble Ugg boot is known as an acronym.

UGG is renowned for its very high quality. China loves Australian wool.

Cultural cringe aside, UGG has done well to position itself as a quality Australian brand in a highly quality conscious Chinese market. And the Australian branding of the Pitt Street, Sydney store seems to reflect those brand attributes and appeals to the Chinese tourist market.

Getting to Zero: Coca-Cola & AIDS

As you probably know, Coca-Cola has a product named Zero that’s heavily promoted around the world.

‘Getting to Zero’ is the strategy made by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The vision is: Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

In my mind, Coca-Cola scored a victory with this one.

Whether this decision was made with Coke in mind or not isn’t clear. But let’s remember, Coke is the world’s number one brand. It has deep pockets and its needs to activate and reactivate the brand are endless.

World AIDS Campaign Africa Director, Linda Mafu, says,

“The potential for creative, connected and meaningful campaigning is really exciting.”

This is why I think it’s a good fit.

Youth and Music

Coke’s target audience is young people.  It is a youth brand. Generations come and go, but Coke always targets young people.

Why not middle-aged drinkers or kids? It’s well known that if you can capture a market young, you stand a good chance of retaining that loyalty for a long time. A child consumer becomes an adult consumer. There’s no need to target the other generations. f you make it relevant for young people, it’s always relevant.

Coke has long used the power of music to add emotion to its brand.

They say that the music you love as a teenager stays with you as music you love for the rest of your life. Something to do with the body’s hormones and first sexual experiences that I won’t go into.

Here, Coke is inviting the world to share the “sound of an AIDS-free generation.”

By using music, Coke says it aims to target teenagers with this campaign. Music is powerful. Everyone would have felt music’s visceral ability to lift a heart, churn a gut, evoke a tear.

As such, the Coke AIDS campaign has used a William Orbit remix of Queen to seed the new vanguard.

Social Marketing

Coke is smartly tapping into all the emotion, struggle, celebrity and profile of this disease, in much the same way as beer or fast food brands tap into similar attributes of sports competitions.
And if anyone likes a social cause, it’s the millennials. That means high shareability.

The strategy states in its foreward that the fight against HIV “serves as a beacon of global solidarity.”

It also wins on the ‘global’ criteria for a Coke sponsorship.

Brand War

In 2012, Coca-Cola enlisted as a partner of the (RED) campaign, together with other brands such as Nike, Girl, Bank of America, American Express and Converse.

The campaign’s tagline is “Fighting For An AIDS Free Generation”.

The (RED) manifesto states: “Every Generation is known for something. Let’s be the one to deliver an AIDS FREE GENERATION.”

Pepsi used to run with the tagline, ‘the next generation’ Remember the Michael Jackson TVCs?

Now Coke is flying the campaign flag “share the sound of an AIDS free generation” making the Pepsi’s old tagline seem meaningless in comparison.


One downside of the campaign is the sheer number of different articulations coming from various AIDS organisations around the world.

It’s such a common problem. Organisations clamour for attention and then try and say too many things at the same time. They need to stick with one message. I suppose it’s not uncommon, but it is a problem. No one can remember a twenty-word campaign name. No one remembers passive sentences and weak verbs like ‘reducing’ or ‘supporting’. We like Zero! It states the vision in no uncertain terms.

All of the others are long-worded and fail on simplicity and memorability. They may be more accurate, but they’re not marketable. At least ‘Zero’ is easy to remember. And for Coca-Cola, that means consumers may just as likely think of a can of Coke Zero than reducing HIV.